By Christian Binder, WSOE Sports
We’ve just about reached the halfway point of the baseball season, and what a season it’s been. There’s pretty much a tight race in every division with no clear favorite yet determined, save for the Dodgers…possibly. It’s time to dish out the awards.
MVP: Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York Yankees. Alright, I know he may not have the best numbers in the league, but think of what “MVP” means. “Most Valuable Player.” That means the player who means the most to his team. So why A-Rod? Look at it this way. The Yankees were 13-15 before May 8, the day Rodriguez returned from the DL after spending a month there, while he was rehabbing after hip surgery. Since his return, the Yankees are 38-21 and sit in contention in the AL East, and if they don’t win the division, they will almost certainly secure the wild card spot. In 57 games, A-Rod is batting .263 with 17 home runs and 50 RBI. His effect on the lineup has been seen mostly in the emergence of Mark Teixeira. Prior to A-Rod being in the lineup, Teixeira was batting below .200 with only a few homers (I wish I had exact stats, but these things are hard to find out without scouring box scores for hours on end.), but since Rodriguez returned, he has been batting above .300 and he stands as the team leader with 21 home runs and 63 RBI. So, take away A-Rod from the Bronx Bombers and you have a sub-.500 team. With him in the lineup, though, this is a completely different team, one that can definitely contend for a World Series title.
Cy Young: Zack Greinke, Kansas City Royals. What a story this guy has been. When he first came up, he showed that he had great stuff, but he struggled mightily, as evidenced by his 5.80 ERA in the 2005 campaign. He only pitched 6.1 innings in 2006 before leaving to deal with a depression disorder. Fast forward to 2008. He pitched over 200 innings with 183 strikeouts and a respectable 3.47 ERA. This year, he is among the leaders in both leagues in wins, innings, ERA, strikeouts, and WHIP. His stat line looks a little something like this: 10-5, 127.1 innings (5 CG), 2.12 ERA, 129 K, and 1.08 WHIP. And he pitches for the Royals. Any pitcher who has a winning record for the Royals has to be special. Oh yeah, he’s an All-Star, too.
Rookie of the Year: Elvis Andrus, SS, Texas Rangers. Andrus has had his moments this year where he has looked like he could be one of the great shortstops of the next generation of players. He is batting .259 on the year with 3 HR and 15 RBI. Not great numbers, but expected of a rookie. What’s more impressive is his defensive play. He is sporting a .968 fielding percentage. For a rookie, that is rediculous, especially at such a tough position. He certianly has come a long way since he was called up. I’m looking for him to have a big second half.
MVP: Albert Pujols, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals. Could it really be anyone else? This guy has a legitimate chance to win the triple crown this year. He has a .338 batting average, 32 HR, and 85 RBI. And that’s before the All-Star break. A lot of players won’t even reach any of those plateaus this year. He does it in the field, too. In 86 games, he has only committed six errors – a .993 fielding percentage. His team is in first place in the wide-open NL Central, which is a big deal. But again, think of what “MVP” means. Take Albert Pujols away from the Cardinals and they are NOT a contending team. He carries that team on his shoulders every year and a lot of the success of the team can be attributed to him. If he doesn’t win this award, something is seriously wrong.
Cy Young: Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants, and Dan Haren, Arizona Diamondbacks. This one is just too close to call, so I’m giving co-Cy-Young awards. Each pitcher has a legitimate shot to win the award come year’s end, but at this point, I can’t fairly give it to one or the other. Lincecum is 10-2 with a 2.33 ERA, 149 K, and a 1.05 WHIP in 127.2 innings. Haren is 9-5 with a 2.01 ERA, 129 K, and a 0.81 WHIP in 130 innings. The only thing that would have me lean towards giving the award to Lincecum is his team’s record. The Giants currently hold the wild card spot, standing at 48-38, while the Diamondbacks fell out of contention early on in the season. They currently stand at 37-50, 18.5 games out of first place in the NL West. It seems like every time these guys go out on the mound, they have a shot at pitching a shutout. Who knows? The co-Cy-Young might actually happen in real life.
Rookie of the Year: Colby Rasmus, OF, St. Louis Cardinals. Talk about hitting the ground running. This kid has played in 80 games, starting out as a fill-in for Rick Ankiel when he was on the disabled list. However, he played well, and he has stuck in the big leagues. He now plays whatever outfield position Tony LaRussa needs him to and has earned everyday at-bats, largely as the number 2 hitter in the lineup. For the year, he is batting .280 with 11 HR (which leads all rookies), and 34 RBI. He has also only committed three errors in the field. He figures to keep on with the Cardinals for the rest of the season barring any injuries and should benefit from batting in front of Albert Pujols.
Well, there you have it. What’d be really awesome is if, at the end of the year, all of my midseason awards are the actual awards given out. The All-Star game is on Tuesday, July 14, in St. Louis, Missouri. After that, the second half of the season picks up, and the trade deadline is at the end of the month. It’s looking like it’s gonna be a great season that will be decided in the final days.